Non-functioning tourism department not serious about attracting tourists

Issued by Hannah Winkler MP – DA Member on the Portfolio Committee on Tourism
17 Oct 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Hannah Winkler MP.

In the aftermath of Covid-19, and the devastating impact of lockdown restrictions on the tourism sector, it is inconceivable that the Department of Tourism, and its entity South African Tourism (SAT), have not placed strengthening South Africa’s brand, to market SA as a preferential tourist destination, at the forefront of their agenda.

According to the Auditor General’s office, which presented findings to the tourism portfolio committee last week, the department failed to meet arguably one of its most important targets which is to conduct and complete a South African brand tourism survey.

The purpose of the survey is to measure South Africa’s appeal as a tourism destination. Operating without this information impedes the department’s ability to devise strategy on how to improve South Africa’s position as a preferred tourism destination.

By improving marketability through the information harvested in the brand tourism survey, South Africa is able to strengthen and elevate its position on the brand strength index. The AG’s report had further reiterated that as “an all-encompassing measure of brand performance, SAT seeks an improvement in the brand strength index”.

According to the AG report, the tender for the service provider appointed to conduct the survey was cancelled and then re-advertised and was then evaluated. It is apparent that the department’s entity is failing in its core business – which is to improve South Africa’s marketability as a favourable destination!

The failure to appoint a permanent Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the SAT Board, is another indictment on the department as the stability and effectual functioning of SAT is in large part dependent on strong and stable leadership. The prolonged appointment of a CEO can only further impede the entities ability to complete its core function, as we are already witness to with the incompletion of key targets.

The poor performance by SAT is indicative of a department that is failing in its ability to serve its core function – that is, to promote tourism in South Africa. As a contributor to GDP, the tourism sector has hardly embarked on a trajectory to recovery, whilst even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic the sector was not operating at its full potential.

As the DA, we will continue to apply pressure on the department to drive South Africa’s tourism economy recovery and to strengthen our brand. We will also ensure that we continue to perform oversight over the department and its entities. South Africa is an amazing country with a huge tourism offering. The only thing holding us back is a government that is unable to execute in its basic functions.